Double-Trouble: Murray Posts Double-Double During Kings’ Win Over Suns
When the Sacramento Kings drafted Keegan Murray with the fourth-overall pick in June 23rd’s NBA Draft, it was fair to say that the forward would have hefty expectations during his first stretch of Summer League games with the franchise.
After watching Murray play seven games in San Francisco and Las Vegas, it’s pretty safe to say that the rookie is unquestionably ready for the real deal.
During Friday night’s 82-69 win over the Phoenix Suns, Murray racked up a 21-point, 10-rebound double-double on eight-of-14 shooting from the field and four-of-eight from beyond the three-point arc to go along with 10 rebounds over only 22 minutes (three quarters).
Over four impressive showings in Las Vegas, Murray topped the 20-point mark in each game. It’s hard to nitpick any part of Murray’s performance this summer, as the forward has arguably been the best player during Summer League play during these past couple of weeks.
Keegan Murray's up to 21 PTS (4 3PM) and 10 REB for the @SacramentoKings!
Watch Q3 action now on NBA TV! pic.twitter.com/ndiuEt154E
— NBA (@NBA) July 16, 2022
Sacramento got off to an ideal start during the first quarter as Murray’s eight points and six boards–capped off by an impressive buzzer-beating triple–put the Kings out in front 22-12 following 10 minutes of play.
Thanks to a red-hot offense (64 percent from the field and 54 percent from three-point range), the Kings were able to take a 52-36 lead into the break behind Murray’s strong start (10 points) and a combined 14 points from the bench unit.
After scoring just one point during Wednesday’s loss to Oklahoma City, Neemias Queta scored 9 points during the first half to join Murray and DJ Steward (nine points) as Sacramento’s leading scorers at the break.
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) July 16, 2022
Things got ugly for Phoenix in the third quarter as Murray and the Kings poured it on as Sacramento led by as many as 25 points during an 11-point period for Murray.
Murray topped the 20-point mark and secured a double-double before the end of the third, adding a 20-point, 10-rebounds double-double to his lengthy list of accomplishments from the summer. As Murray continued to add to his Summer League resume. the Kings took a commanding 72-51 lead into the fourth to all but put away their second win in Las Vegas.
To put it bluntly, Keegan Murray is–or more likely, always was–too good for NBA Summer League.
In each of his seven performances this summer, the rookie played with a sense of comfortability and poise that you normally see in seasoned veterans. Murray displayed the ability to catch-and-shoot, convert on the fast break, and if needed, create on his own during the past two weeks of action.
The Kings know what they have in the 6’8 forward–a long, floor-spacing, plus-defender on the wing that can slide into the lineup alongside De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis this fall.
It’s currently unknown if Murray will suit up for Saturday’s Summer League finale against the Houston Rockets, but at this point, another game from the Iowa product simply isn’t needed. Murray has firmly etched his name in the Las Vegas MVP discussion and is a shoo-in for the All-Summer League First Team.
Murray’s next game should be on October 3rd when the Kings tip-off its preseason slate against the Los Angeles Lakers in Southern California.
Rounding Out The Box Score
- Neemias Queta shook off a rough 23rd birthday performance on Wednesday (one point over 22 minutes) to finish Friday’s game with a 15-point, 10-rebound double-double on a perfect six-of-six shooting from the field over 26 minutes.
- DJ Steward played well in a starting role as the guard finished the night with 14 points and five rebounds during 30 minutes of action.
Kings general manager Monte McNair was busy on Friday afternoon.
According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, Sacramento reached an agreement with forward KZ Okpala on a two-year deal that will run through the 2023-24 season.
Okpala, a 6’8 forward that has played three NBA seasons with the Miami Heat, holds career averages of 2.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 0.3 blocks per game over 63 games (nine starts) on 40 percent shooting from the field and 27 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
During the 2021-22 season, Okpala played in just 21 games but averaged career-highs in points (3.7), rebounds (2.0), and blocks (0.3) per game while also shooting a career-best 34 percent from the three-point line.
KZ Okpala is athletic, plays defense at a high level and can use his 7’2 wingspan to defend multiple positions.
The potential to become an outside threat is there as well (career-high 34% from 3PT in 2021-22).pic.twitter.com/xRwfV0aN4l
— Frankie Cartoscelli (@FCartoscelli3) July 15, 2022
Okpala, a member of the 2020 Nigerian men’s basketball team that played in the Olympic games in Tokyo, Japan, will join Nigerian head coach Mike Brown, assistants Jordi Fernandez and Luke Loucks, and forward Chimezie Metu in Sacramento next season.
When it comes to members of the Nigerian men’s basketball team joining the Kings, another player joined the organization on Friday.
According to Sean Cunningham of Fox 40, former UC Davis standout Chime Moneke signed a deal with the Kings for 2022-23. Moneke, a 26-year-old, 6’6 forward, averaged 14.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 53 percent for the field during 34 appearances for Bàsquet Manresa, a Spanish basketball club that competes in Liga ACB.
Moneke was a part of Nigeria’s stunning victory over the United States in 2021 before the rosters were trimmed before the team headed to Japan for the Olympic Games.
The lengthy forward will provide the organization with even more defensive depth, something that McNair and Brown are viewing as a priority for the upcoming season.
The end of Summer League has arrived.
Sacramento will play its final game of the summer on Saturday evening when they face the Houston Rockets at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.
Following the conclusion of Saturday’s game, the dog days of the offseason will begin as most of the large free agent/trade/roster moves have already been conducted.
Get ready for some downtime, NBA fans.
NBA 2K23 Summer League in Las Vegas (July 7-17th)
- vs Houston Rockets – Saturday, July 16th – 6:00 pm PST
——- End of Summer League ———